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Re: [xmca] concepts

(sent again with modified subject heading).

David Kellogg wrote:

> Dear Ana, Vera:
> Einstein, interviewed, said that language appears to play no part in his
> thinking; that he always began with a particularly strong VISUAL image: a
> man straddling a train going faster than light, or a falling elevator, or
> chucking a heavy weight out of the window of a train.
> Of course, you and I can see how much these visual images depend on verbal
> perception, on thinking sights rather than seeing thoughts. But it is
> certainly true that they are not directly dependent on word meanings;

The distinction that I draw here is between the 'data' of vision, hearing
etc. and the meaning of seeing and listening.  From this position it's more
apparent that the meanings, and the manner of their mediation, originate
from social circumstances.

> I remember my father laughing at my brother, who complained that all the
> TAs at MIT had strong Chinese accents, and saying that it was their written
> equations on the blackboard that he should be attending to anyway.

This anecdote could also be construed as someone's attempt to avail
themselves of a more appropriate way of seeing, which, no doubt, is hard to
achieve from within a positivist framework, one ends up focusing upon the
sensed data: accents and markings on a board.

> I find myself in perfect agreement with what Ana suggests about the use of
> language in classrooms in general and foreign language classrooms in
> particular. But I notice that the various functions she suggests  "to know
> something, to experience something meaningful, or to act in some significant
> way in a meaningful conversation" are different in important ways. I would
> say that the kids in our classrooms, perhaps unlike those in american
> classrooms, know a lot and experience learning as meaningful, but they lack
> the ability to act in a significant way in a meaningful conversation.
> When we look at the "stable" periods of development in Volume Five, we
> notice that they are often marked by a child's transition from knowing and
> experiencing to acting. For example, in infancy the child goes from
> observing smiles to smiling, and in early childhood from understanding
> speech to speaking. Even the critical periods of development are caused by a
> somewhat too precocious activity on the part of the child; the substitution
> of a neoformation for a whole social situation of development (e.g. the
> crisis of "No!" at three).
> I guess that it's the transition from knowing and experiencing to acting
> that I am most interested in. The kids are looking at a picture which show a
> boy, Jinho, and a girl, Ann. They are looking at a calendar which says it is
> May first and there are only four days until the Korean holiday of
> Children's Day. They are sixth graders, and it is the last Children's Day of
> their young lives; they are discussing, somewhat enviously and peevishly,
> what they will get as presents, and how many they will get.

The omission I'm noticing here is that knowing and experiencing is an
activity in itself.


> For Graves, language had the key function of helping him NOT see--helping
> him to recover from shell shock. That is why he wrote:

Nice example.  Do you mean 'not see' here, or 'not see in a particular
way'.  I am comfortable with the latter.

Thanks for the interesting post,

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